Air Force strengthens 53IB’s efforts vs. NPA terrorists in Zamboanga Del Sur

by Warren Ryan Revoltar

The Philippine Air Force’s Tactical Operations Group 9 (TOG9) continues to strengthen its convergence and collaboration with the Army’s 53rd Infantry “Matapat” Battalion (53IB) against New People’s Army communist terrorist groups in Zamboanga Del Sur.

During his visit at the 53IB Headquarters in Camp Sabido, Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur on September 8, 2020, TOG9 Commander Col. Pedro Agapito was apprised of 53IB’s Area of Operations (AO), efforts against the NPA including updates on NPA terrorist personalities, and TOG9’s conduct of Air Support Operations.

TOG9 has recently supported 53IB with six (6) Air Resupplies, four (4) Close Air Support, four (4) Leaflets Dropping, six (6) Aerial Recon, six (6) Troops Insertion, and six (6) Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.

TOG9 also supported 53IB in the Battalion’s response to the coronavirus-2019 (Covid-19) pandemic by providing helicopters for leaflet dropping in hinterland areas in the delivery of critical and right information to far-flung barangays.

Aside from COVID-19 leaflets, TOG9’s air assets were also utilized for 53IB’s information leaflets about the Government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) intended to encourage NPA terrorists in the hinterlands to surrender and avail of government’s initiatives and programs.

Col. Agapito said TOG9 would not stop in supporting 53IB both in its efforts against the NPA terrorists and the delivery of accurate and timely information to far-flung barangays.

“We will continue to support our ground troops from up above the sky. Just give us the information and we will fly. We will serve as your eye in the sky,” Col. Agapito said.

53IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said he is “very thankful for Col. Agapito’s excellent leadership and TOG9’s unceasing support to 53IB.”

“TOG9 has been very supportive in our efforts against the NPA terrorists. We are forever grateful for your support, and hope we continue this fruitful partnership to completely put an end to communist armed conflict in our area,” Lt. Col. Herrera said.

After the briefing, Col. Agapito was invited to a tree-planting activity at Matapat Firing Range in 53IB Headquarters.

~Press release and photos courtesy of 53rd Infantry “Matapat” Battalion, Philippine Army

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